Matthew 13:53-58 A Prophet Rejected Through Unbelief.

Matthew 13:53-58 A Prophet Rejected Through Unbelief.

After finishing his discourse on the parables, Jesus departed for his own country, and as was his custom he entered the synagogue to teach (vv. 53-54a Cf. Ps. 22:22; 2:23; Mk. 6:1; Lk. 4:16). The people knew him as a one who was born and raised by a carpenter, the son of Mary, with brothers and sisters whom they all knew as their neighbours (vv. 55-56a Cf. Mk. 6:3-4; Lk. 3:23). Therefore they were astonished at his wisdom and the “mighty works” they saw him perform (v. 54b). However, because they regarded him as a common person, they were also offended, envy and jealousy going hand in hand with their unbelief (vv. 57-58 Cf. Is. 49:7; Mk. 6:5-6; Lk. 4:24; Jn. 4:44; 5:44-47; 7:15). They were offended that he was regarded as so high and mighty (Cf. Jn. 6:42), but all are blessed who are not offended (11:6). “Jesus’ refusal to do many miracles in Nazareth was not because He needed the faith of people to empower Him, but because miracles are of little value to those without faith” (NGSB 1529).

Matthew 13:51-52 Old And New.

Matthew 13:51-52 Old And New.

It is one thing to read or hear the parables, but it is quite another thing to understand their meaning. Some will hear but not understand, or see but not perceive (vv. 14-17; 34-35). Jesus, the Lord, is the great teacher (v. 51), and as such he is the householder who brought and brings out treasures new and old (v. 52 Cf. Heb. 3:6). That which is found in the older testament scriptures is combined with the new covenant canonical witness, to give the full light of the revelation of the mystery of the gospel of the kingdom

Matthew 13:47-50 A Dragnet And Judgment.

Matthew 13:47-50 A Dragnet And Judgment.

Just as harvesting a field involved gathering grain with weeds (vv. 37-43), even so the judgment to come will be like casting a net to gather all kinds of fish, which when gathered will have the bad separated from the good (vv. 47-50). The bad are the wicked, sons of the devil, and the good are the just, those justified by the Messiah. Good and bad, sheep and goats will be found in every nation (22:9-10; 25:32). This will all take place at the end of the age of the messianic reign and kingdom.

Matthew 13:44-46 Hidden Treasure And A Pearl.

Matthew 13:44-46 Hidden Treasure And A Pearl.

In the parable of the hidden treasure, a man finds treasure in a certain field not his own, hides the treasure still in the same field, and then sets out to buy the field. Apparently whoever owned the field had not explored it sufficiently, or else they did not value what this man considered to be a treasure. In any case, since the man had to sell all he had to buy the field it is certain that he could not afford to let it be known how valuable the treasure was to him. He did not steal the treasure, but only hid it. Had the owner properly appraised its value he may not have sold the field, or may have asked for a higher price. In any case, being hidden now, it would hopefully be safe from others who may not appreciate its value (v. 44).

Paul considered that everything he had was as nothing compared to the knowledge of Jesus the Christ, his Lord (Phil. 3:7-8). In the Christ are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3 Cf. Rev. 3:18). Jesus is the Merchant seeking “beautiful pearls” (v. 45). The saints are these pearls making up his holy temple wherein the Spirit dwells, to the glory of God the Father. It is the kingdom reign of the Messiah that is also the “one pearl of great price” (v. 46). The teacher of the Proverbs considered wisdom to be treasure to be sought out (2:4; 3:14-15), and in the messianic chapter 8 we read that the Messiah gives wisdom as knowledge and instruction, of greater value than silver and gold (10, 19).

Matthew 13:31-35 Mustard Seed, Leaven, And Prophetic Fulfillment.

Matthew 13:31-35 Mustard Seed, Leaven, And Prophetic Fulfillment.

Critics of the scriptures like to take examples, such as Jesus’ words concerning the mustard seed, to show his supposed ignorance, and the supposed errors which are found in the bible. A simple example is when the bible speaks of the sun rising, applying in this context strict rules of geophysics. It is a hypocritical stance to take when the same people will talk about, and go to weather reports to find the time when the sun will rise or fall. Neither are positing a belief that the sun revolves around the earth. This case of Jesus and the mustard seed parable is the same. “Please note that Jesus was not comparing the mustard seed to all other seeds in the world, but to seeds that a local, Palestinian farmer might have “sowed in his field,” i.e., a key qualifying phrase in verse 31. And it’s absolutely true that the black mustard seed (Brassica nigra = Sinapis nigra) was the smallest seed ever sown by a first-century farmer in that part of the world. It’s also true, as many modern-day encyclopedias will tell you, that the black mustard seed in Israel will typically grow to heights of 3.7 meters, or 12 (twelve) feet—plenty large enough to hold a bird nest.” (Christiananswers.net)

To impose strict botanical comparisons on an international level is to completely miss the context in which these words occur. Herbs are also very small seeds, but when they grew up in that same area they were not near the size of the mustard plant, which could indeed get to be the size of a tree. The point is that the kingdom of heaven, the reign of which Jesus was bestowed upon his ascension to the right hand of the Father, is a kingdom which appears small in comparison to what people often think of it terms of kingdoms. Again, to take this parable in context, we know that the seed sown is the word of God. This kingdom is not furthered by huge armies and the military weapons of war. This kingdom works in the world through the teaching, preaching, and practice of the word of God. Elsewhere Jesus spoke of birds, namely the sparrow, perhaps what one might view as least among the birds of the air, but even they are the subjects of the Father’s care and protection. However, are we not of more value than many sparrows (Mt. 10:31)? Nothing escapes the impact of the word, and the kingdom refers to more than just the church, it includes the whole of life on earth, as in heaven.

In a similar fashion is the parable of the leaven. Leaven is but a small element in the menu of baked bread, but it is this which causes the loaf to rise and expand well beyond its own size (v. 33). The seed of the word has this effect in hearts prepared to receive it, like the good soil of the parable of the sower (vv. 1-9; 18-23). This string of discourses regarding the parables served the very purposes portrayed in that parable of the sower, and the wheat and tares, the sower whom Jesus stated referred to him sowing the seed of the word, the gospel of the kingdom (v. 34 Cf. v. 37; Mk. 4:33-34; Jn. 10:6; 16:25). Here Jesus makes the point that this use of parables had a differentiating purpose, and that their use was yet another proof of his messianic claim. “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world’” (v. 35; Ps. 78:2). Parables convey “things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” With the rest of the new covenant canonical testimony we know this to be the mystery of the gospel revealed to the saints (Cf. Rom. 16:25-26; I Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:26).

Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 Wheat And Tares.

Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 Wheat And Tares.

Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven could be likened to a man sowing seed in a field. Matthew just finished recording that the seed is the word, and the soil is the hearts of people. Many of those who hear the word do so only from the wayside, in an uncultivated area as it were. Satan snatches the word out of the hearts of these persons, so that they never come to an understanding of the truth. Another group have stony hearts, too hard for the word to take root and prosper. A third group have too many thorns or weeds in their hearts, which are the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches. The last group are those whose hearts are made receptive to the knowledge of their sin and need for the saviour. These are those in whom the seed bears fruit, “some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (vv. 18-23).

Now with this parable of the wheat and tares, the seed remains the word sown, but now the distinction is made between the wheat, those who receive the word and bring forth fruit, and the tares, being those who are from seeds scattered by the enemy to try and choke out the wheat so that they do not prosper and bear fruit. This enemy, who is Satan, comes in darkness unawares, and plants the weeds. He has no power to prevent the wheat from being sown and growing up to bear fruit, and he also has no power to uproot the wheat. His only influence is to plant weeds to make it more difficult for the wheat to grow and bear fruit. The weeds absorb the same sun, water, and nutrients of the soil as the wheat, but to a far different end. These are the children of Satan, who enjoy the creaturely benefits of God’s unmerited favour.

God the Father loves his enemies as the Creator and sustainer of all things he has made. This was noted earlier by Matthew, when Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies. “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (5:45). With respect to spiritual matters, it is the Father’s intent that his true children by adoption grow and prosper in the world alongside the weeds or tares, for to uproot the weeds would involve uprooting the wheat as well. We have an example of this in the older testament where some tares of his enemies were allowed to live so that his people might in fact prosper thereby. The wicked will be driven from the earth “little by little” until the church of Christ inherits the land (Ex. 23:30). The two seeds will grow together until the knowledge of the glory of the LORD fills the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14).

Ultimately there will come a time of harvest and judgment. This time will not be a time to sow Messiah’s kingdom, as so many believe. Rather, this will be a time when the Messiah’s kingdom will come to the fruition determined by the Father. It will be a time of harvest, as the time of sowing will be past. However, first in order will be the uprooting of the tares to be thrown into the fire of judgment, then the earth will prosper, and the true children of God will also continue to prosper in it. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt. 5:5). However, despite what we find in this immediate passage, the disciples sought for a fuller explanation, which Matthew picks up at verse 36. There he makes the point that the sower of the good seed is Jesus himself, “the son of Man” (v. 37), and the field is the whole world (v. 38a).

“The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age” (vv. 38b-40). “This age,” is the age of the Messiah’s kingdom reign. Jesus is the sower, and the wheat are his family, and the earth is his domain. When he sends out his angels to gather, they will be gathering “out of His kingdom,” that is the earth at the end of this age! He will gather together “all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (vv. 41-42). Note it well, that which offends and those who “practice lawlessness” will be thrown into the fire of judgment.

The Messiah’s present kingdom reign is a theonomic one, where God’s law is taught and practiced throughout the whole earth. When Jesus returns to harvest his kingdom, the godly seed, those made righteous through the imputation of his righteousness, will then “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (v. 43a). In other words, the kingdom will be given back to the Father. “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under Hid feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’” (I Cor. 15:24-27a) “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (v. 43b).

Matthew 13:1-23 Parables, Seed Sown, And Bearing Fruit.

Matthew 13:1-23 Parables, Seed Sown, And Bearing Fruit.

This was a busy day. Matthew continues on from the previous activities, including the visit from his blood relatives, and notes that Jesus “went out of the house and sat by the sea” (v. 1). Sitting at water’s edge can be a restful experience, but on this occasion it seems that it didn’t last long, for the multitudes soon followed (v. 2). Matthew then records a long set of discourses by Jesus on parables, beginning with the parable of the sower (v. 3). However, in the middle of this parable, between the parable itself and its explanation, Matthew records Jesus words on the purpose of parables, beginning at verse 10. Parables are given to both reveal truth to the true children of the Father, and to hide it from those who are not (v. 11).

The old covenant apostate leadership had a lot in Jesus’ day. They had a spiritual and physical deposit of truth, as Paul also pointed out. Of prime importance was being entrusted with the very oracles of God, and living in a community covenanted to the LORD (Cf. Rom. 3:2 with Dt. 4:5-8). This is what they had, but this would be taken from them, and the revelation of new covenant truth would come through those sent by the triune God to his true children, and as they received that word they were given more (v. 12). In order to understand the truth one must receive it. The apostates chose not to receive the word given through the Son. It is not enough to hear or see the word, it must also be received in order to understand and perceive the truth (vv. 13-14).

Here Matthew records Jesus’ citation of Isaiah 6:9-10 as being fulfilled concerning this most fundamental truth. The heart is the core of a person, and because the apostates had dull hearts they could not hear nor see the truth (v. 15). Having eyes to see and ears to hear are blessings, for it is not up to human beings and their ability or lack thereof, but it is totally of God’s mercy (v. 16). The full extent of this blessing can be seen even in relation to those under the old covenant administration, who did hear and see the revelation as was given, even prophets and righteous men who desired more. All who now receive the full canonical revelation are blessed beyond measure, for we have now everything that the prophets of old longed for (v. 17).

Jesus then returns to the parable of the sower, to give to his disciples a fuller understanding of the truth (v. 18). What is of first importance is the seed sown – the word of God. Many people through the centuries have heard “the word of the kingdom,” but not all understand it (v. 19a). As Jesus already made clear, to understand the word one must be blessed, that is, be the subject of God’s unmerited favour or grace (vv. 8, 16). Here also comes the wicked one, who to defend his own kingdom does so through the primary method of taking away the word sown in the heart (v. 19b). These are those who hear only, never finding the way they remain on the wayside (v. 19c). As Jesus already made clear, a house divided will not stand (12:22ff.).

Still others hear and receive the word with joy, but it is only superficial. These people are like stony soil which has no depth into which the word might germinate and grow up strong (vv. 20-21a). “For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (v. 21b). A third possibility are those who hear and receive the word, but the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, are like thorns or weeds that give no place for the word to grow and bear fruit (v. 22). Then there is a fourth outcome, made possible out of mercy and grace, and that is those who both hear and receive the word in such a way that it bears lasting fruit, one hundred, sixty, or thirtyfold (v. 23). It is by this fruit that the true children are known (12:33ff.).

Matthew 12:46-50 The Family.

Matthew 12:46-50 The Family.

Jesus had a mother and brothers, just like we all do. These are not always the ones we would refer to as family. For Jesus, his family were those who did the Father’s will, for that is what he did. Certainly one’s biological family can also be members of the greater family with the Father, but this is not always the case. When we seek to follow Jesus our relationship to the triune God must take precedence over all others.

Matthew 12:22-45 A House Divided Cannot Stand.

Matthew 12:22-45 A House Divided Cannot Stand.

Matthew recorded Jesus’ affirmation that he is the Servant spoken of at Isaiah 42:1-4, the Beloved of the Father, upon whom the Spirit would rest, who would extend the good news of the kingdom to the Gentiles, in whom they would trust (vv. 15-21). As the Beloved Servant, coming to do the work assigned him of the Father, with the anointing of the Spirit, in sending justice to victory, he demonstrated his true prophetic witness with the casting out of demons, and thus the defeat of Satan and his rule over men. As a case in point, Jesus delivered a demon possessed man, and this man went from being blind and mute to seeing and speaking (v. 22). Not surprisingly “the multitudes were amazed and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’” (v. 23).

It is interesting that they refer to David. No doubt they were looking for a covenantal succession, David’s son who would ascend to the throne, and thus many assumed a strictly political kingdom. However, Jesus demonstrated and spoke of a kingdom that was first of all spiritual in nature. The Pharisees sought to counter Jesus claims by saying that the power by which he cast out demons and healed the sick, was from Satan and not the covenantal LORD (v. 24). Therefore the point follows, which was that it made no sense that Satan would be extending his kingdom rule by casting out his minions from the domain of men. The casting out of demons was done by the Spirit, and therefore either one was with Jesus, who had the Spirit, doing the Father’s work, or one was with Satan.

A house divided against itself cannot stand (vv. 25-30). This is the context of the words of verses 31-32. In suggesting that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Satan, they were calling the Holy Spirit, by whom Jesus was casting out demons, an unholy spirit. This is the unpardonable sin. One can even speak a word against the Son, as the Pharisees and other religious leaders often did, but to cast aspersions on the Holy Spirit was unforgiveable. It is also in this context that Jesus backed up his claims by making what is also an obvious point, that one cannot get good fruit, namely the casting out of devils, from a bad tree (v. 33). It was the Pharisees, and those with and like them, who were the bad trees speaking bad words (v. 34).

The heart is the core of who a person is, and one’s words flow from the state of one’s heart. Good words and deeds come from a good heart, and bad from bad (v. 35). What is in the heart is what one treasures most. Words spoken are a serious business, for we all shall have to give an account of the words we have spoken (v. 36). By our words we may be justified, or by our own words we may be condemned (v. 37). For the scribes and Pharisees, supposedly men of the holy scriptures, Jesus works were not enough of a sign of the authenticity of his message, for they sought for another (v. 38). It is probable that when Jesus refers to that generation as “adulterous” that he has in mind their breaking of the covenantal bond (v. 39).

As the Beloved Servant he was called to take the good news of salvation by grace through faith to the Gentiles, and so the sign of Jonah was fitting. Just as Jonah refused to take a message of repentance and faith to the Ninevehites, even so this generation could not see the Father’s plan for the world. So also Jesus, in the place of sinners, would suffer an accursed death being “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (v. 40). Nineveh repented when they heard the gospel from Jonah, and for this reason they would condemn those who had greater light and yet would not believe in the one sent (v. 41). This was wisdom they did not want to hear, and so also the Gentile queen of Sheba would also condemn them, since she sought it out, also with lesser light (v. 42).

Matthew then records that Jesus returned to the subject of unclean spirits. The Pharisees and their cohorts accused Jesus of working his deliverances by the power of Satan, and so they committed the unpardonable sin of calling the Holy Spirit unholy. Now Jesus makes the point that clearing out the strong man’s occupancy is not enough if there is not something put in his place. If a person were just delivered of an evil spirit or spirits, and their heart was not also filled with the Spirit, then those evil spirits would be determined to marshal their forces and come back stronger (vv. 43-44). However, we can thank God that greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world (I Jn. 4:4). Such was the state of that generation who refused to receive Jesus as the Messiah (v. 45).

Matthew 12:15-21 The Beloved Servant.

Matthew 12:15-21 The Beloved Servant.

Jesus knew that there were those seeking his immediate destruction (v. 14). There would come a time, in the not too distant future, when he would die a gruesome death, but not at this time. His ministry to his own people, the Jews, was without much fanfare, although those seeking healing flocked to him (v. 15). With this popularity came a warning that he would not receive an overwhelming welcome as the Messiah among his own. As the quote from Isaiah makes clear, he would come as the Beloved Servant who would not quarrel or cry out, but his voice would be heard among the Gentiles, with the unction of the Spirit (vv. 17-21 Cf. 3:17; 17:5; Is. 42:1-4). What they would hear would be a message of justice leading to victory. A great many of his own people interpreted this only politically. They wanted a new David to restore them immediately to political power and independence. However, as the anointed One, the Messiah’s victory would be gained through the just punishment on sinners through his own sacrificial death – the innocent for the guilty. His would be a victory over sin and its punishment – death. He was, and is, the same Servant referred to at Isaiah 52:13-53:12, to establish a perpetual covenant of peace (Is. 54). Those bruised and faint with the acknowledgement of their own guilty state would not be broken or snuffed out, but rather they would trust in him and live. Repentance and faith are the two sides of the open door that all must walk through.